While the beginning of the season in more recent years has been getting earlier and earlier into the month of August, traditionally teams had to wait until the middle or end of the month to kick-off the league campaign
That’s while you’ll find only six games in total down the 74 years of Fleet’s existence that have kicked off on this day – all of them since 1970 – and we have a perfectly balanced record of won two, drawn two and lost two…
15th August 1970
Hastings United 3-2 Fleet
After a pretty tough slog through the 1960s for the ever-diminishing Fleet fanbase, the Seventies heralded a new era. Manager Alf Ackerman had stopped the rot and his 16th place finish in the Southern League Division One of the season before was the highest the club had enjoyed since relegation from the Premier Division in 1963. This first game of the 1970/71 season, however, didn’t go to plan – indeed Fleet lost four of the opening five – as a trip to Pilot Field saw home side Hastings edge the points as they commanded a 2-0 half-time lead. Fleet’s goalscorers were Tony Sitford and new signing Allan Jones. Those two men proved key in what was to become the club’s first ever promotion, Jones finishing as top scorer with 16 goals in his one season at the club and Fleet clinched third place on goal average to return to the Premier. The attendance was 936.
15th August 2006
Fleet 4-1 Tamworth
The season when everything came together for Liam Daish, his new-look Fleet side had gone down to an unfortunate opening-day defeat at Aldershot despite leading 2-0 in a ding-dong battle at the Rec. Back at home for the first display in front of our own fans, things turned out to be a masterclass of attacking verve. Charlie MacDonald (above) and Mark DeBolla (below) – who had both scored at Aldershot – bagged a brace apiece to delight Stonebridge Road’s crowd… the curious fact here being that the 936 through the gate was the very same number as had turned up at Hastings exactly 36 years previously.
DeBolla’s two fine goals both came from thumping 35-yard free-kicks and either side of that, MacDonald’s scoring streak continued as he twisted and turned for the opener on six minutes and rounded the night off with Fleet’s fourth, an 18-yarder to capitalise on a defensive mistake on 66 minutes. Fleet went on to claim our highest league position for more than 25 years as we just missed out on a play-off position on the final day.
15th August 2017
Dagenham & Redbridge 3-3 Fleet
Six goals shared for the second time in four days as Fleet’s start to National League life continued to entertain. The team had snatched a late 3-3 draw at home to AFC Fylde and came back from the dead at Victoria Road to do it again. With future Fleet players Corey Whitely, Michael Cheek and Bondz N’Gala lining up against a visiting side that included future Daggers Kenny Clark, Myles Weston and led by Daryl McMahon, it was Whitely who fired the home team in front before seeing a rather softly awarded penalty saved by Nathan Ashmore but the Daggers added a second when Kevin Lokko fired past the Fleet keeper on the stroke of half-time. Jack Powell’s trademark free-kick strike looked to be a mere consolation when Morgan Ferrier restored Dagenham’s two-goal cushion but Luke Coulson (66) and Danny Kedwell (80) sparked raucous celebrations amongst the Fleet fans penned in behind the opposite goal. A healthy 1,686 witnessed one of the more action-packed games of a memorable season.
Other games on August 15th:
1981 Worcester City 2-1 Fleet (Att: 1,286) / Richardson
2009 Fleet 0-0 Kidderminster Harriers(Att: 865)
2015 St Albans City 0-2 Fleet (Att: 602) / Kedwell, Clark
Pl: 6 / W: 2 / D: 2 / L: 2